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The Best Questions to Ask Candidates During a Job Interview (and Why)

Conducting an interview is one of the most crucial stages of filling a vacancy within your company. You need to find a candidate who has the perfect skills, experience and personality traits for your role. To achieve this, you should ask questions which will provide you with information about their work history and skills beyond what their CV has to offer, and reveal their strengths, weaknesses, values and work habits.

To help you prepare for the next time you interview a job candidate, we’ve compiled a list of the best interview questions to ask, and why.

What do you know about our company, and why did you apply for this job?

This is a simple yet effective way to find out how much research a candidate has done. The aim of this question is simply to figure out if a candidate has spent the time researching what your company does, essentially figuring out who is sincerely interested in working for you.

It’s important to find out why a candidate is motivated to fill your position. Obviously we all need to pay our bills and put food on the table, but it’s important to make sure that this is not a sole reason for a candidate to apply for a job, as employees are generally happier, more productive and more likely to stay in a position long term if they can connect with your company in some sense.

Can you tell me about your current role?

This is an effective open-ended question that can help to evaluate a candidate’s communication skills whilst gaining a valuable insight into their background.

How do you think your co-workers would describe you?

Asking this question will give you an insight into how a candidate views themselves in the eyes of others, and how they might work within a team environment. It may also shed some light onto a candidate’s soft skills.

What could your current company do better?

This is a great way to gain a sense of whether a candidate sees the ‘big picture’ and judge their business acumen.

Could you tell me about a time when you had a disagreement with a boss or colleague and how you dealt with the situation?

Conflict is a tricky aspect of life, especially within the workplace. This question will allow you to gain a better understanding of a candidate’s conflict resolution skills and interpersonal skills. Many candidates are hesitant to speak negatively about their co-workers, so it will be interesting to see how they navigate questions about workplace conflict. Were they able to handle the situation calmly and appropriately? Did they use emotional intelligence to find a resolution?

Where do you see yourself in five years?

An employee who has a strong drive to succeed and professional ambitions is a valuable asset to any company. By asking this question you will be able to differentiate those who have given career progression within your company serious thought, and those who haven’t. If a candidate parallels their career growth with the company they’re interviewing at, it is likely that as your new employee grows financially and professionally, your company will, too.

Tell me about a time you made a mistake.

This classic interview question pops up time after time, and with good reason. It’s a fantastic way to gauge a candidate’s self-awareness and humility, and to understand how (and if) they have learned from their mistakes. Most good candidates will see this question coming and have an answer ready. Candidates who take ownership of their mistakes and use them for self-improvement will usually be humble and willing to learn, whereas candidates who speak of passing the buck onto others will blame others when the going gets tough and fail to learn from their mistakes.

What are your hobbies outside of work?

It’s important to gain an insight into what sort of person a candidate is in order to know whether or not they’ll fit in with the company’s culture, and finding out what they get up to in their spare time is a great way to go about this. This question is also a great way to get a candidate to open up and relax during an interview. Also, you might find out some pretty interesting facts – what if your employee was a professional ski jumper and you never knew?!

Do you have any questions?

This question typically signifies the end of the interview. Most candidates who are genuinely interested in your role will have prepared a few further questions to ask you at the end of the interview. This question may also reveal what’s important to the candidate – does the role offer a decent benefits package? Are they wondering about the company’s culture?

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